‘Bojack Horseman’ first aired in 2014 and took the Internet by storm! You might think that a series based on an anthropomorphic horse might be a bore, but it’s a wild ride!
For viewers who have grown accustomed to a certain kind of animation, ‘Bojack Horseman’ might sit a lot more differently. But it’s refreshing, it’s brave, and more than anything, it makes your thoughts gravitate towards what being human really is. ‘Bojack Horseman’ is Netflix’s highly successful adult animated tragicomedy sitcom that aired from 2014 to 2020, spanning six seasons. It featured the voices of actors Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, and Aaron Paul.
Was race ever part of ‘Bojack Horseman’s identity?
- What is ‘BoJack Horseman’ about?
- Representation in ‘Bojack Horseman’
- What race does ‘BoJack Horseman’ belong to?
Despite initially receiving mixed reviews, it went on to receive widespread critical acclaim, and fans called it one of the year’s best-animated series! It has become an integral part of popular culture and has driven conversations around its realistic take on mental health, racism, and the human condition among others. There is one thing, however, that often confuses fans – What race is ‘BoJack Horseman’? Keep reading as we revisit the events that chronicle the show and make an attempt at finding out more about the protagonist BoJack Horseman.
What is ‘BoJack Horseman’ about?
The animated series is set in an alternate Los Angeles set up, where anthropomorphic animals and humans coexist. Most of the show’s events occur against the setting of Hollywood and follow BoJack, the washed-up star of a 90s sitcom. He once portrayed a young bachelor horse who was raising three humans, orphaned children, but now lives in obscurity.
The show chronicles his endeavour to make a comeback, with a tell-all autobiography written by ghostwriter Diana Nguyen. She’s a human Vietnamese-American writer, a third wave feminist, and likes to believe that she’s a misunderstood intellectual. As BoJack and Diane work on his autobiography, he struggles with his addiction to drugs and alcohol, and his reckless behaviour.
Bojack tries to dull his past pains by doing something a lot more worse, and the viewer soon realises that he is depressed. He deals with his own problems while meeting the demands of his agent Princess Carolyn, who’s also his on-again-off-again girlfriend. To make things worse, there are the antics of his roommate Todd Chavez, a proclaimed freeloader, and his rival, Mr Peanutbutter.
Representation in ‘Bojack Horseman’
‘BoJack Horseman’ has often been regarded for its representation, diversity, and handling of race issues. Todd was at first believed to be Hispanic and White/White-passing but is later revealed to be non-Hispanic. There is Diane’s character, however, who is a Vietnamese-American woman, but her family is as American as it can get.
The problem here is that their POC (person of colour) characters are being voiced by white actors. Diane’s character has been voiced by Alison Brie, who eventually received a lot of flak for it and issued a public apology. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, too, hasn’t shied away from talking about overlooking the white-washing of POC characters.
He gave his two cents, sharing that, “Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane’s experience as a woman of colour, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part”.
He issued several tweets explaining his thoughts in detail, and his fans were excited to see Raphael’s refreshing acceptance of making a mistake and learning from it.
What race does ‘BoJack Horseman’ belong to?
The show does tell a story set in a parallel world, where humans and animals live together, marry, and even have children. This makes one wonder if there’s even a room for race since the show goes beyond species. The series avoided conversation about race in general, maybe the reason behind it was the intersection of species, we’ll never know.
With the exclusion of conversations surrounding race, the show placed emphasis on personality issues, sexuality, current events, and mental health. BoJack is never mentioned to be of a certain race although his attributes have been compared to that of a middle-aged White man. It doesn’t help that the character is voiced by Canadian actor Will Arnett, also a middle-aged White man.
The creator has accepted criticism for the same issue and confessed that he’d do it differently if he could. ‘BoJack Horseman’ has its flaws, but it certainly got some things right too! What do you think about the representation in ‘BoJack Horseman’? Let us know in the comments!